Luke 5:33-39 – [33] And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” [34] And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? [35] The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” [36] He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. [37] And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. [38] But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. [39] And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

“The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken from them and then they will fast.”

The Christian life is one of joy in Christ. We have peace with God. We have had the benefits of the greatest act of love ever committed, lavished on us. Peace, love, joy. And yet, in spite of all that (and so much more), we are a people who mourn. We mourn our sin and the fact that we are not fully released from the practice of it and the temporary consequences of it. We mourn that the world is not serving Christ and that the fruit of salvation seems to be so meagre. We mourn that so many who profess to know Jesus Christ do not live like they have had a life changing encounter with the life giving God. We mourn what sin has done and continues to do to a world in immorality, abuse, disease, natural disasters and more. We mourn the pain and suffering that is the lot of the peoples of the world and especially those who know Christ and suffer because they know Christ.Faith in Christ might be joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8), but it is far from consummated yet. And it makes the real believer weep.

Jesus explained to those who queried Him about why His disciples did not fast, that it was not their time yet because He, the Bridegroom, was with them. The bridegroom’s presence means the wedding is on and there is great feasting, not fasting. There is coming a time when the bridegroom will be taken away. When that happens, the disciples of Jesus will fast. We live in such a time. It is time now to fast. We fast because we want the bridegroom to return so that there will be joy again. We fast now because sin makes us mourn and fasting is an indication of mourning. We fast as an indication that there is something more important to us than the satisfaction of biological needs. We fast now because it is a good exercise of self control and self discipline that helps us in our quest for greater holiness. We fast now because we need to discipline ourselves to developing a greater hunger for God than for the things God gives us. We fast now because it helps us pray and focus.

It is a sad thing that fasting has become almost completely unpracticed in many Christian circles. It is also sad that many who do practice it do so with the thought that it earns them spiritual points with God or think that it is a guarantee of spiritual or material blessing. It is a spiritual practice that is a reflection of the longing of the heart for Christ to come and for us to be more like Him and for others to come to saving faith. The bridegroom has left. He is returning. Until then, we shall fast and we shall grow and be ready for when He finally does appear.